Nut Suite. Mini reviews of albums old and new. Minimum words. No fuss. No spoilers [?]. Occasional smugs.

Friday, March 30, 2012

NEW MODEL ARMY / Raw Melody Men (1991)

There are dozens of NMA bootlegs around; the band doesn't seem to mind, but Raw Melody Men is the first of the official live releases. The reason you want to get it above all the others is because of the excellent sound quality. For years I suspected some overdubs, but in the end I conceded they probably really are that good live. They deliver their own brand of folk-punk rock with conviction and passion, the kind that puts lesser acts to shame. The disc includes some of their finest songs, played in an environment that invigorated them.

Songs of Note: White Coats; Get Me Out *

5 it's an anagram out of 5

*Studio versions. The Raw Melody Men version wasn't available.

PAUL SIMON / Graceland (1986)

The sun is shining. The birds are tweeting (for real, not on twitter). My neighbour is still unaware that yesterday I shat on his lawn. Life is good. It put me in the mood for happy-joy-joy music. Hence Paul Simon. Everyone needs Graceland. Do I need to describe it? It's so famous. I’ll spare a few words in case you've been living in a cave for the past thirty years. It's a blend of traditional Pop with Mbaqanga (South African Pop music). Parts of it are firmly rooted in that 80s sound, which ages it slightly, but the rest has a timeless quality. It's occasionally calming, often stirring, and always infectious. Once it's in your head, it stays there and you'll be better for it. Take it back to your cave and fall in love with it. ♥

Songs of Note: The Boy in the Bubble; Graceland

5 days of miracles and wonder out of 5

PINK FLOYD / Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live [2000]

I'm going to get this out of the way, and I'm going to get crucified for this as well, but I think Pink Floyd's live recording of The Wall is better than the studio album.
Hear me out, before you grab your pitchforks and torches. Now, The Wall was meant to mimic that of a theatrical extravaganza and the studio album did a mighty fine job at it but the live version does better as theatrics are meant to be live. The bitter passion of performing in front of a live audience is very evident in Roger Waters' voice. With excellent sound quality, perfect performances, extended songs and 2 new songs how can you go wrong? This is the next best thing to the real theatrical deal you're going to get these days.

5 Brand New Bricks out of 5

Songs Of Note: Empty Spaces/What Shall We Do?; The Last Few Bricks

Thursday, March 29, 2012

THE ALMIGHTY / Just Add Life (1996)

If not for the distinctive sounds that come from vocalist Ricky Warwick I'd have thought this turd was labelled wrong and that I'd picked up a lame-ass trendy Pop-rock album by mistake. I didn't. It’s lame-ass trendy Pop-rock on purpose. Avoid.

Song of Least Fail: Afraid of Flying

0½ a waste of time except for the 43 second song out of 5

TECHNO ANIMAL / Ghosts (1991)

Techno Animal don't play Techno, thankfully. I feel sorry for anyone that picks it up thinking that's what they're getting. Techno Animal is experimental musician Kevin Martin with K. Flesh (Justin K Broadrick) on programming duties. What that produces is the kind of heavy industrial hip hop that JKB side projects are known for, with a harsh ambient texture that scares the hell out of many listeners. It's jarring listening at times, but it's also one of the better undiscovered and bizarre industrial albums of the 90s. If it came on in a darkened dance hall the room would clear, and anyone left would be the person(s) I'd want to make friends with.

Songs of Note: Burn; White Dog

4 familiar drumbeats out of 5

DANNY CAVANAGH / A Place to Be: A Tribute to Nick Drake (2004)

Like the title says, it's an album of Nick Drake covers by English musician Danny Cavanagh. Danny takes a break from his day job in Anathema for a solo project that's clearly one born from passion. It's an acoustic work, just the man and his guitar, a million miles away from what he's best known for. If that kind of minimal sound appeals to you, and if you like Nick Drake, you'll probably adore it. It was a limited release, so will be hard to find now, but if you see it anywhere, I would recommended throwing money at someone so you can take it home.

Songs of Note: Cello Song; Black Eyed Dog

4 silver spoons and coloured light out of 5

THE RESIDENTS / Duck Stab - Buster & Glen [1978]

The Residents aren't for everybody. Or many people at all really. You might find Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa tapping their feet to them though.
The multimedia fuckered art collective known as The Residents have been baffling listeners for years, so it's difficult to convince folks that their 1978 album Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen is their most easily accessible record.
It plays like a children's album for funerals gone terribly wrong in the most perverse and cringe worthy ways possible. The distorted synthesizers and nasally vocals sound hilarious at first but with repeated listens it only becomes more disturbing and creepy.

3½ KD ditties out of 5

Songs Of Note: Birthday Boy; Hello Skinny

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


The end of the first set is like a cliffhanger as we hear Les Claypool announce "we'll be back in 20 minutes with more Pink Floyd than any human being should ever withstand".
What we have here is an astonishingly faithful and brilliant complete cover performance of Pink Floyd's under-appreciated Animals album. I mean seriously, folks, who better to recreate the dark, funky and bitter sounds of Floyd's 1997 classic than Les Claypool. The Frog Brigade boys completely outdo themselves with precision and heart-filled dedication to it's source material. Bravo.

4 bricks in the wall out of 5

Songs Of Note: Dogs; Sheep


Primus' Les Claypool takes some time off from his day job to form The Fearless Flying Frog Brigade for this 2001 recording of the first half of a live performance. A stoner prog-rock jam-band consisting of the original Primus line-up (aka Sausage), a saxophonist, a keyboardist and a lucky guitar playing fan who answered a newspaper ad.
The set is bookended by impressive covers of prog-rock pioneers King Crimson and Pink Floyd with songs from Claypool's Sausage and Holy Mackerel projects sandwiched in between. At first it's bizarre, noodly fun but with each listen it reveals just how tight these guys really are.

3½ riders on the storm out of 5

Songs Of Note: Hendershot; Shine On You Crazy Diamond [cut off :(]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

OVERKILL / The Electric Age (2012)

Overkill have been around for over three decades! It's hard to believe. TEA sounds like it was made by people half their age. Their peers should take note, THIS is how to do it. It's filled with vibrant speedy guitars, solos that serve a purpose, frantic thrash drums and some familiar but nevertheless dynamic song writing. Ironbound (2010) was a hard act to follow, but they gave it their all and their all was good enough for me. If Bobby's vocals don't tear your ear to shreds, and if you have a love of old-school thrash, then chances are good you'll not be disappointed with their sixteenth studio album. Yes, there's been that many!

Songs of Note: Come and Get ItElectric Rattlesnake

4 old guys creating new scars out of 5

Sunday, March 25, 2012

PINK FLOYD / P.U.L.S.E. [1995]

While on tour in support of The Division Bell, Pink Floyd recorded their second live album 1995's P.U.L.S.E. which is a little pointless at first glance.
Being a double disc album, the first disc gathers together a boring setlist of mostly newer songs from the cocaine addicted Dave Gilmour days. However it's the second disc that is a pleasant surprise: a live performance of the complete Dark Side Of The Moon album.
In addition to it's fantastic sound, the Floyd sound significantly more enthusiastic than they did on Delicate Sound Of Thunder. Not a perfect album but it's still a keeper for Dark Side alone.

3 Pink Floyd's Ultimate Light Show Experience out of 5

Songs Of Note: Hey You, Money

Saturday, March 24, 2012

ANATHEMA / Alternative 4 (1998)

The album that finally lost Anathema a legion of hairy fans is a genuine overlooked classic. The song structures are still occasionally doomy slow at times, a part of who they were prior to Alternative 4, but at other times it's balls-out anguished tirades from behind a wall of sound. Elsewhere there are some beautiful piano pieces that encourage the listener to engage with their own emotions, something many of us shy away from. It has a huge Roger Waters influence, which pleases me greatly. It's an album that opens to reveal intricacies the more you invest yourself in it.

Songs of Note: Shroud of False; Inner Silence

4 alternative songs about trust out of 5

ALICE COOPER / Constrictor (1986)

A timely return to the spotlight for Alice after getting himself fixed up in a clinic for people who like their vices a little too much. He'd been gone for three years.
It's cheesy mid-eighties rock and as such is hard to recommend to anyone who didn't discover it close to the era, or someone who isn't interested in the musician's career as a whole. It's not quite hair-metal, but it's definitely girlfriend-metal. You know what I mean. 'Nuff said.

Songs of Note: Teenage Frankenstein; He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)

2½ the nightmare plays it safe out of 5

MINISTRY / Relapse (2012)

The new Ministry album proves once again that the band made their last good album in 1992 (ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ). Relapse is a boring mesh of diluted Filth Pig (1996) riffs and some very obvious filler that Al appears to have had left over from his other projects. The cover of SOD's 'United Forces' made me want to listen to Slayer, that's the only positive thing I can muster to say about the album. Did Ministry get tired or did I get tired of Ministry? Or both?

Songs of Least Fail: United Forces

1 because a zero is just too cruel out of 5

Friday, March 23, 2012

ALICE IN CHAINS / Music Bank: Disc 1 (1999)

Nirvana were chosen by the media as the face of the Seattle grunge sound, but AiC wrote better songs with deeper content. Fuck Nirvana. Up the Chains! The Music Bank collection was for die-hard fans and was both supremely awesome and slap-in-the-face insulting. It includes demos and unreleased material alongside previous album material; the demos are great but the album stuff we'd already bought (more than once!). Disc 1 has one new track, some demos, six tracks from Facelift (1990) and two from Sap (1992). The music is what I'm scoring, regardless of where it originated, and on that note it's all good. All of it.

Songs of Note: Get Born Again; Rooster (demo)

4 it came in a pretty little box out of 5

ALICE IN CHAINS / Music Bank: Disc 2 (1999)

Disc 2 contained almost the entire Dirt (1992) album; the tracks it didn't have were held over for Disc 3. Dirt was without a doubt their best album, but it would've been nice to have some more demos. The extras that we do get are two previously unreleased tracks and a version of Brother without Ann Wilson's vocals. Two tracks from Jar of Flies (1994) finish it off. Once again the music is excellent, but the insult to existing fans this time is even more pronounced. I can't mark it down, though, because it has on it the best songs they ever recorded. Dammit!

Songs of Note: Fear the Voices; Lying Season

5 songs of note both previously unreleased, so I used them out of 5

ALICE IN CHAINS / Music Bank: Disc 3 (1999)

Disc 3 gives us the remainder of the Dirt (1992) album, two tracks they recorded for that otherwise awful Last Action Hero soundtrack (1993), about half of the Eponymous third album (1995), some tracks from the MTV Unplugged (1996) album and finally the last song is the second newly recorded track for the box. The new song is best forgotten; it's weak. Overall, it's the most diverse disc of the collection but is likely the one most people will listen to the least. The two film soundtrack songs help raise its score above average.

Songs of Note: What the Hell Have I; A Little Bitter

3½ a bit of a mixed bag this time out of 5

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PINK FLOYD / The Division Bell [1994]

Pink Floyd's second Post-Waters album, 1994's The Division Bell dives a little further into New Age adult contemporary U2-esque suckage.
It might not sound as forced as their previous record, Momentary Lapse but it's just as bland and empty. There's a few good songs but most are complete misses and make you wonder if David Gilmour & Co. were even trying. In attempt to throwback to the Floyd of yesteryear, Gilmour loosely tosses on a concept of communication to the album which just seems to be an excuse to hurdle a couple of bitter swipes at Roger Waters.
It's good that Floyd called it a day after this but it's unfortunate they left us with this crap as their swan song.

2 Stephen Hawkings out of 5

Songs Of Note: What Do You Want From Me; High Hopes

BURZUM / Filosofem (1996)

The Count stepped out of the shadows with Filosofem but managed to bring the essence of the darkness with him. The sound retains the fuzzy coldness of previous releases, while downtuned guitars wail their repetitive pains into your brain. The vocals are less screechy and more distorted than previous albums because he asked a confused sound technician for the worst microphone he could find; it works beautifully. Side one is perhaps the most perfect example of extreme but accessible Norwegian Black Metal ever created. Side two has an extended ambient track that is longer than it seems. Overall, the album is the perfect place to start if you're new to the scene.

Songs of Note: DunkelheitJesu død

5 clarion calls out of 5

BURZUM / Hliðskjálf (1999)

Varg's second prison album was made under the same constraints as Dauði Baldrs (1997) but it sounds fuller and has less fumbling. It's once more exploring Norse mythology through the medium of music, without the need for vocals. The dark ambient sound needs a suitably dark ambient environment to work in. If the quiet reflection of Rundtgåing av den Transcendentale Egenhetens Støtte (Filosofem, 1996), or Tomhet (Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, 1994) didn't make you hit the stop button, then you may connect with Hliðskjálf more than the average Burzum fan.

3½ hand drawn album covers out of 5

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GERMAN SHEPERDS / Music For Sick Queers [1985]

German Sheperds is a duo from San Francisco of which one of them proclaimed to be a child molester and was thrown in jail, where he committed suicide, all just to promote this record, 1985's Music For Sick Queers.
It can't really be described as music but more a series of extremely unsettling noises and textures set over minimal melodies & rhythms and haunting voices pleading for some sort of peace. It's most reminiscent of The Residents or Throbbing Gristle at their most disturbing.
If you're looking to alienate & frighten your friends to force them out of your house then this would be the best place to look.

3 uber-creepy confessions of love out of 5

Songs Of Note: Communist Control; THC

PINK FLOYD / Delicate Sound Of Thunder [1988]

While on tour for their...ahem...Water-ed down new record A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, Pink Floyd recorded a few of their stadium packed shows for their first official live album, 1988's Delicate Sound Of Thunder.
A collection of a few songs from Momentary Lapse and all the obvious hits from their more successful records, Floyd recreate the sound of their albums perfectly. So perfectly it's actually quite boring to sit through nearly 2 hours of listening to David Gilmour and an army of hired help on auto-pilot. While they capture the sound, they seem to forget about the passion and it hurts the listening pleasure quite a bit. Skip this snooze-fest.

1½ Is it over yet? out of 5

Songs Of Note: On The Turning Away; Comfortably Numb

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SUSPIRIA / Drama (1997)

A long-dead British Darkwave band with just two members. As well as being the envy of every goth band in existence for nabbing THAT name, they played dance-floor friendly gloom for shut-ins and people who prefer black velvet undies (keeps your janglies warm on winter morns). Trading guitars for programmed beats sounds dated now, but in '97 it was still interesting. It manages to stand out from the rest of the clones and isn't the worst thing to come from that scene. If you own and enjoy anything on the Nightbreed record label, you'll maybe like Drama.

Songs of Note: The Far Heavens; The Frozen Ones

3½ frozen ones out of 5

PINK FLOYD / A Momemtary Lapse Of Reason [1987]

Pink Floyd's 1987 release A Momentary Lapse Of Reason was a legal mess behind the scenes. Roger Waters who had deserted the band had taken the remaining members to court in an attempt to not let them use the Pink Floyd name anymore. Rick Wright was invited back into the band but was not legally allowed to be a member. Nick Mason, the credited drummer, played no drums on the album but rather contributed with the odd atmospheric effect here and there. All in all, Momentary Lapse is a David Gilmour solo album made to kick dirt into Waters' eyes.
There's a few beautiful and genuine songs but mostly the album is made up of great ideas brought to the table but never fleshed out into anything good. It sounds like '80's soundtrack songs performed by a U2 cover band and not the Floyd we came to love.

2 broken promises out of 5

Songs Of Note: Learning To Fly; On The Turning Away

THE MEADS OF ASPHODEL / In the Name of God, Welcome to Planet Genocide (2006)

A lengthy E.P. from TMoA. The artwork gives the impression that it'll sound like CRASS, but it doesn't, it sounds like TMoA, which is to say it sounds like it was recorded in a cardboard box with a group of musicians that know the music speaks for itself and to hell with production. It's a concept E.P. about... well, you'll figure it out. It has a Black Metal-Eastern-Gothic-Jazz-Doom-Dance-Bitofeverything sound that takes many listens to appreciate fully. There's even a ballad; I shit you not.
They throw in a Discharge cover medley for the hell of it, even though it has nothing to do with the concept. The last track is a barrel of fun.

Songs of Note: The Man Who Killed for GodA Baptism in the Warm Piss of Slaughtered Children

3½ stories you won't hear in church out of 5

Monday, March 19, 2012

SLEIGH BELLS / Reign Of Terror [2012]

Noise-pop duo Sleigh Bell's 2012 sophomore album Reign Of Terror has a lot to live up to after the critically acclaimed debut album Treats surprised everyone with it's refreshingly bizarre sound.
Derek Miller's LOUD guitars wash over nearly every moment of the record, along with thumping drums that occasionally sound like arena bleacher foot stomping. Lace that all together with Alexis Krauss' airy bubblegum vocals and Sleigh Bells can't be mistaken for anybody but themselves.
It's not overly complicated songwriting, but there's something oddly alluring about it.

3½ unknown choruses out of 5

Songs Of Note: Crush; End Of The Line

Sunday, March 18, 2012

GRIMES / Visions [2012]

Bizarro electro-pop artist Grimes makes her big label debut on 2012's Visions and shows she has something to prove.
A delightfully fun little mixture of '80's tinged synth-looped dance songs, flavored with the slightest hint of J-pop and psychedelic art rock. It has a great late night quality to it that conjures up images of ghostly pixies in an otherworldly florescent night-garden.
Had Grimes decided to lop off a good 10 minutes or so from this album, she'd have a pretty solid effort but after so long it begins to drag and loses it's hypnotizing allure.

3 impounded chickens on a steamboat out of 5

Songs Of Note: Oblivion; Nightmusic

PERFUME GENIUS / Put Your Back N 2 It [2012]

Mike Hadreas' second album under the Perfume Genius name Put Your Back N 2 It is easily going to be one of my favorite albums of 2012.
It has a brutally honest and stripped down fragility on it that could have so easily fallen into schmaltzy melodramatic slop but never does. Hadreas voice is a bare-all falsetto that's backed up by spacey piano based songs that sound like a cross between the more emotionally musical moments in a David Lynch film and Sigur Ros.
It's the type of personal album that makes the listener mildly uncomfortable in some of the more soul-baring moments...and that's what makes it.

5 semen covered songs out of 5

Songs Of Note: Normal Song; Dark Parts

SIGH / In Somniphobia (2012)

Sigh continue to surprise. They make avant-garde Metal that's the perfect soundtrack to films that don't exist. In Somniphobia pulls the listener through a gothic horror drama, then drops them behind the scenes at a jazz club hosting a late night carnival fancy dress party. The middle part of the album, Lucid nightmares I–VII, is so off the wall for a Metal band that you'll maybe wonder where the wall went. Did I mention there's accordion? And I think there may have been strippers. It makes me want to own a wind-up psychotic doll and donate it to a children's home. If you're familiar with Sigh's past work, then you'll know to expect the unexpected. Happily, they once again deliver it.

4 dreams that take a left turn at mystery corner out of 5

Saturday, March 17, 2012

PINK FLOYD / Works [1983]

A couple months after the release of what many fans called the last "real" Pink Floyd album The Final Cut, Works a half-assed compilation of Floyd songs was released in 1983.
It's a bit of a piss-poor representation of the band's work between 1967 and 1973. Unlike their previous collection of Great Dance Songs, this is just badly arranged and randomly picked. It's not really a best nor is it obscure. It's like someone shuffled their Pink Floyd MP3 folder and burned whatever came out to disc.
The only real reason to pick this up as a collector, would be the previously unreleased track Embryo and even then it's an utter disappointment.

2 shitty stereo mixes out of 5

Songs Of Note: Fearless; Embryo

OVERKILL / Under the Influence (1988)

I played Under the Influence more than any other thrash album in the late 80s. Megadeth, Anthrax and those ageing stadium rockers (you know who I mean) may have sold more records than Overkill, but the East Coast guys were always lurking in the shadows, waiting to claim the crown. It's unashamed heavy riffage that oozes energy from every overpowering bass strum. Wicked thrash guitar breaks and some frantic drumming from the new guy back it up. Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth screeches his impassioned heart out. What's not to like?

Songs of Note: Hello From The Gutter; Head First

4 actions not said out of 5

Friday, March 16, 2012

NINE INCH NAILS / The Fragile (1999)

A double album of two very distinct halves. The first disc plays like a concept album, it's moody and initially impenetrable but rewards repeated listens; it's a winter flower that slowly opens to reveal hidden beauty (if you can accept the notion that personal demons are a kind of beauty). It's full of the fuzzy guitar sound that people associate with NIN, but there's much more to it than that, it's layered throughout with hooks and a deep resonating bass that pumps like a slow, pained heartbeat. The second disc is more akin to a collection of songs, obvious singles and is much less interesting - it's for people with a shorter attention span.

Songs of Note: The Wretched; La Mer

5 pilgrimages to the great below out of 5

JARBOE / Mahakali (2008)

Jarboe's voice is an instrument that's both terrifying and comforting, instilling both fear and primal reassurance in the listener. Here she plays the role of Mother and Destroyer: Mahakali the Indian goddess associated with Time and Death. Piano and orchestral moments sit alongside guitars, heavy percussion, and deeply symbolic ambience. Throw in some powerful, often aggressive sonic assaults from Jarboe herself and you have a great album. It could give nightmares to horses and scare the demons from beneath your bed.

Songs of Note: Mahakali, of Terrifying Countenance; The Soul Continues

4½ seas of blood out of 5

PINK FLOYD / A Collection Of Great Dance Songs [1981]

The 1981 Pink Floyd compilation A Collection Of Great Dance Songs is generally nothing more than a quick cash grab for Columbia Records.
With that out of the way, I can't help but admit it's a really nice little sampler package though. It flows from song to song with grace and never sounds awkwardly out of place. It contains new mixes of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Another Brick In The Wall" plus a newly recorded version of "Money".
It's not an essential record but for the uninitiated to Floyd it might be a good place to start.

3 super groovy dance tunes that you can't dance to out of 5

Songs Of Note: Money; Shine On You Crazy Diamond

THE TING TINGS / Sounds From Nowheresville (2012)

The same as the début album but also different. The same in that it's over 50% filler, and different in that the music has undergone a transformation - there are new influences to be heard. It's a lot fuller sounding, and while it retains the indie attitude of before, they've matured in their composition.
Unfortunately, the vocals are mostly delivered in the same manner. Katie has a good voice but it has a limited range, which can get repetitive. If you want some Ting Ting Pop, then I believe their début album is still a better choice.

Songs of Note: Silence; Give it Back

2 bagbones out of 5

Thursday, March 15, 2012

BURZUM / Dauði Baldrs (1997)

Mr Stabby may be an asshole at times but he made some fine Black Metal in his time. The Dauði Baldrs album is different. It was the first release from his prison cell. Being denied a guitar and drums, etc, meant he had to make do with a PC and as a result it's mostly synth. It tells the story of Baldur and Loki and the rest of the gang. There are no lyrics, so you have to read the accompanying booklet or research the story elsewhere; it's not hard to find (it's kinda famous).
You'll maybe struggle to find it now, but the vinyl edition is a great release.

Songs of Note: Daudi Baldrs; Moti Ragnarokum

3 ill tidings out of 5

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

CARTER U.S.M / Starry Eyed and Bollock Naked (1994)

Carter often used the B-Sides of their singles to try new things. It made the 7" worth buying. Kids today think a 7" is a kind of sandwich, so give them this instead, it collects together most of the band's flip-sides and it'll shut the snotty little bastards up for longer than a fattening sarnie would. It's missing some covers they did, but the 18 tracks on offer are as good as anything on the regular albums. What the record company thought a waste of time has become my second favourite Carter album. If you like the band, you need Starry Eyed.

Songs of Note: Re-educating RitaAlternative Alf Garnett *

5  keys behind the bar out of 5

* Those aren't the studio versions but it's all I could find on failtube.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SAY ANYTHING / Anarchy, My Dear [2012]

You know you’re in for trouble when the biggest, darkest misogynist you know is “happily” married. Is Max going to regret having Sherri guest on so many songs, live, and on this album? Probably. Her songs are easily the most awkward to listen to, but he still manages to talk shit about himself and other guys in the process. The best to be found herein comes on songs written about her--in her absence--and a jilted, wonky, almost honky-tonk send-up to the chaos in the universe. Oh, he attempts to make it about her, but it’s abundantly clear he’s finally come to grips with his own insane inconsistency and how it’s all a part of this gloriously complex mess of a cosmos we inhabit. A (mostly) comfortable, respectable (enough) effort.

2½ fetishized sheep out of 5

Songs of Note: Of Steel; Anarchy, My Dear

Nutted by NEG

FOXBORO HOT TUBS / Stop, Drop And Roll!!! [2008]

With the pressure of their follw-up album living up to American Idiot, Green Day decided to take some time off from their day job and create the Foxboro Hot Tubs. Their own version of a good times garage rock band recorded on an 8-track, the Foxboro's debut (and possibly only) album Stop, Drop And Roll!!! is pure mindless fun.
Musically and lyrically heavily flavored with a '60's party rock vibe and several throwbacks to The Kinks, The Yardbirds and The Beatles. The jangly guitars, bouncy basslines, thumping drumming and guilt-free hooks make for a novelty record that's nothing more than good old rock n' roll.

3½ Where's Highway 1's out of 5

Songs Of Note: Mother Mary; The Pedestrian

IRON MAIDEN / Iron Maiden (1980)

It's amazing to think that Maiden perfected the sound that would define them for the next 30+ years on their very first album. It's heavily influenced by Thin Lizzy, but it's moulded into something unique. The dual guitar melodies are in place, the Steve Harris bass lines, the quiet refrains and the simple but addictive chorus'. There's also a distinct punk vibe running throughout, mostly due to Paul Di'Anno's vocals; they would eventually drop that part (along with Di'Anno) but it's a joy to revisit it. The eponymous release is still one of my favourite Maiden albums.

Songs of Note: Sanctuary; Iron Maiden

5 lucozade adverts out of 5

PINK FLOYD / The Wall [1979]

Pink Floyd's ambitious 1979 rock opera The Wall is a theatrical classic in every way.
A musical masterpiece that collected the themes Roger Waters seemingly obsessed over to the point of near madness. It's just as angry and as cynical as Animals but Waters balances that out by portraying an emotional fragile side as well. Musically it's a little outdated at times but makes up for it with some of the most emotionally powerful songs the Floyd ever recorded. Waters' rugged vocals make for some great moments of sincerity and other moments are cringe worthy. While David Gilmour is on the top of his game with both vocals and guitar playing.
The legacy of The Wall can not be denied and one of Floyd's best records.

5 nearly Pros & Cons out of 5

Songs Of Note: Mother; Hey You

ANATHEMA / Weather Systems (2012)

Weather Systems is layered symphonic, acoustic and piano driven with flawless accompanying percussion; there are of course still guitars, too. Each song builds upon the previous one until the whole thing becomes one engulfing wave that's both uplifting and beautifully saddening. Vincent Cavanagh always sounded better to me with clean vocals. His voice and harmonies are stronger and more emotional than ever. There's a fragility and a beauty on offer. Anathema have moved beyond maturity, into heightened serenity.

Songs of Note: Untouchable Part II; Internal Landscapes

5 minds open that can see out of 5

Sunday, March 11, 2012

THE NETWORK / Money Money 2020 [2003]

Are they Green Day or are they not?
The mysterious 6-piece New Wave project called The Network released Money Money 2020 on Billie Joe Armstrong's label Adeline Records in 2003. Supposedly from somewhere in Europe, The Network came to America, signed to Adeline and proceeded to badmouth Green Day. Heavy on the flat sounding, yet bubbly synths, driving straight forward drum playing, down stroking guitar and bass playing, plus monotone vocals all make for a fun listen.
It's fun but not necessarily great. If you're a fan of Green Day and hunger for more this would be where to look...except it's not Green Day. Right?

3 "Fuck The Network"s out of 5

Songs Of Note: Hungry Hungry Models; Hammer Of The Gods

Saturday, March 10, 2012

KILLING JOKE / Killing Joke (1980)

The first eponymously titled Killing Joke album (they released another one 23 years later) is by far the better of the two. It's usually lumped into the post-punk section of your local store, but it doesn't really belong there, or any other pigeon hole - it's a musical anomaly for the era, years ahead of its time. It was a huge influence on the industrial and metal genres, though. All those bands that you love now loved the Joke long ago. It was self-produced, so sounds a little flat in places, but with a good amp and some reluctant tinkering it can still kick. Time may have dulled its sheen, and parts of it may sound like a cheap porno soundtrack, but none of that has diluted its importance or its power.

Songs of Note: Requiem; The Wait

4 wall scralls out of 5

GREEN DAY / 21st Century Breakdown [2009]

After the massive success of the punk rock opera American Idiot, Green Day faced the difficult task of coming up with an album that was better or equally as good.
2009's loosely conceptual 21st Century Breakdown doesn't live up to it but tries it's damnedest. With producer Butch Vig on board, 21st Century sounds a little too polished to express the danger and rawness Green Day are trying to portray with such clichéd politically angry lyrics. Featuring just a small handful of 5 star songs and a whole bunch of potentially great songs that wander around with no direction, 21st Century just seems like a bloated, self-indulgent mess without the entertaining wiseass lyrics of American Idiot.

2½ 1972's out of 5

Songs Of Note: Peacemaker; ¿Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)

KATATONIA / The Great Cold Distance (2006)

Still exploring the dark and distant aspects of the human condition, the Swedes continue to do it with the same riff-chorus-riff structure as before, with Jonas belting-out in his soft but emotionally pained voice. There's experimentation but you need to listen carefully to hear it; e.g. some new drum techniques give it a new kind of pulse; the crunch of the guitars drifts in and out; and the bass is a little higher in the mix. As usual, the production is flawless. However, the structure is less forgiving for new listeners. For the casual listener it's perhaps formulaic. For fans it can be appreciated as a variation on a theme.

Songs of Note: Deliberation; My Twin

4 oppressive waits out of 5

Friday, March 9, 2012

PINK FLOYD / Animals [1977]

By 1977, it was obvious that Pink Floyd were no longer friends and becoming nothing more than business partners. The coldness between the band members is very apparent on the bizarre, yet fascinating Animals.
A bit of the odd bird out, nestled between some of Floyd's most commercially and well-known records. Roger Waters takes center stage both with songwriting and vocals. While David Gilmour & Nick Mason were hanging on by a thread and Rick Wright was nothing more than a few moments of atmospheric soundscapes.
It's the cold, cynical and angry album where Floyd was just beginning to build a wall between each other and the rest of the world.

4 pigs on the run out of 5

Songs Of Note: Pigs On The Wing 1 & 2; Sheep

GODFLESH / Pure (1992)

If nihilism had a sound, nothing would more closely resemble it than Pure. It takes the heavy sonorous sludge of the previous album, gives it a much less abrasive production and then layers it with a sterile, metallic quality. Its repetitive beats still pummel you, but on a different level - it's not a slug-like creature anymore, it's the burrowing into your ear with needle-teeth kind. Terroriser magazine voted it one of the top 100 albums of the 90s. I'm inclined to agree.

Songs of Note: Spite; Predominance

5 pains without credential out of 5

Thursday, March 8, 2012

GREEN DAY / Bullet In A Bible [2005]

Playing in front of 130,000 people, Green Day made sure to record this larger than life concert. Bullet In A Bible blends together 2 nights at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes on their 2005 American Idiot world tour.
Playing in front of so many, yet managing to keep an intimate feeling to their energetic performance, makes Green Day one of the best live acts to see.
Packaged as a CD/DVD combo, Bullet is probably one of my favorite live album/concert films ever produced.

5 pink bunnies out of 5

Songs Of Note: Jesus Of Suburbia; King For A Day

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN / Wrecking Ball [2012]

After two mediocre studio albums American rocker Bruce Springsteen is back on his game 100% with 2012's Wrecking Ball.
Springsteen's songs are always aware how shitty the world is but he doesn't want us to dwell on it, he wants to inform and push yourself to never let it pull you down with it. We're all in this together whether we like each other or not.
Wrecking Ball marks the final recordings from long-time friend & saxophonist Clarence Clemons, as well as collaborations with Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello. Mixing in a little bit of electronic drums loops, Irish folk rhythms and even a short rap help livening things up and shows that Springsteen respects all genres of music and people.

5 spirits of the oppressed out of 5

Songs Of Note: Death To My Hometown; Wrecking Ball